Thursday, March 25, 2010

First thoughts on Jo Nesbø's The Snowman

I may post about The Snowman again later, but for now: Nesbø writes beautifully, with a style that seems simple but is interlaced with humor, metaphor, character, and menace. Though many readers will figure out who the killer is long before Detective Harry Hole does, the fun in reading the book really comes in reading the prose and watching the plot twist and turn through numerous red herrings and false leads until it reaches its inevitable conclusion. There are images running through the text that tie the whole book together, some of them relevant to the story directly, others simply accompanying the tale with their own metaphorical power. Don Bartlett's translation is excellent, as usual. Perhaps not the Harry Hole book to start with, but if this is the one you can get, go for it--any Nesbø book will take you where Harry is going, and with a lot of pleasure (not to mention blood and terror) in the journey. The plot here concerns a serial killer who preys on young mothers and leaves a snowman as a signature. There are too many suspects rather than too few, and along the way as they police close in on one or another, you know they're following the wrong track because there are 200 pages left. But the detective team, including a new partner for Harry, Katrine Bratt, who is intriguing and unusual and has her own very significant impact on the story.


Maxine Clarke said...

For once, I did not guess the main twist in this one. I got the first two, but not the main one.
I really liked this book but thought the two "crazy over-the-top" climaxes at the end kind of spoilt it.
Loved the rest, though. He writes so well about families and about the character of Harry.

Glenn Harper said...

Maxine: I agree that there are flaws in the climaxes--in the final one in particular there's a hint of superhero that I find a bit annoying. But that has been a feature a feature of the series--kind of a contrast between the flawed alcoholic and the cop with superpowers, I guess.